We left the cottage at 6:30pm in our specially ordered Wilson’s cab, driven by the world’s best dressed taxi driver. Very dapper. We had such an excellent run to Portsmouth that we arrived at the terminal before the ferry was built. And check-in was a total breeze.
Passed a happy bunch of chappies seated on the floor, happily imbibing from a somewhat modified suitcase, sign posted as Club Paradiso. The case was complete with bottles and those little measure things that ensure you only get drunk by degrees.
The terminal is pretty much what you’d expect though nicer than Heathrow. I particularly like the way they have dressed up the ‘Java City’ café to resemble something continental when from the inside it’s actually a dressed up version of the Eastenders café.
Lots of French youngsters speaking in volumes normally reserved for cars with blacked out windows and no tweeters. I had a long time to observe the microcosm which is the terminal as we couldn’t board until 7:45. I like to have a certain amount of buffer time but I think I overdid it this time!
Eventually we joined a surprisingly orderly queue to be x-rayed then boarded an almost standing room only coach (that’s literally standing room only – there are very few seats) to the bottom of an almost vertical, 438 mile ramp which we had to scale in order to reach the middle deck of the ferry. For the benefit of anyone reading this for whom the words ferry and Rosebay are synonymous, for ferry here read QEII.
We found our cabin, dumped our stuff, briefly marvelled at the amount of space we had which includes bunk beds and full bathroom. Mirinda said the overnight ferry she caught in Scotland had rooms like wardrobes and you had to sleep standing up, with shackles in case of bad weather.
From our spacious quarters we took a wander, passing the long line of bored travellers queuing up for the self service food, into the bar in order to pick up a John Smiths and a screwdriver and finally, out onto the deck. We watched Portsmouth Harbour fade into the night as we set off.
We wandered some more (didn’t see Leonardo Di Caprio), putting our name down for dinner at the restaurant for around 10. Normally you can’t book, it’s first in first served, but they close at 9:30pm so anyone who wants can put their name down to be called from then on. It’s a French system that works fine for me.
We ended up at the top bar listening to some band whose name sounded something like ‘Rusty Four and the Classics’ and drinking a John Smiths and a strawberry daiquiri. The music was quite eclectic but basically harmless enough. Mirinda wanted to wait until they played Copacabana but, firstly we had dinner reservations, secondly the set was finished and thirdly the singer’s nose was no way big enough.
Dinner was delish but also brought with it the first blight of the trip so far. The waitress had a cold and managed to snurffle all the way through four courses. Still, the food was yumbo and we rolled out (the waves not the booze) and back to our cabin at 11pm.